Well here we are at number 20. This will be the last post for a couple of weeks as I shut down the Things Fall Apart Offices for a couple of weeks while I enjoy my summer holiday.
This is going to be a tough movie to write about. Firstly because I adore it. Secondly because it is hard to write about it without mentioning it’s pseudo-sequel “My Sassy Girl” (which will be covered in much detail later as one of the top 3). And thirdly because it makes me cry.
Now I am not the kind of person that cries at movies. I mean I am a guy after all. And as you can tell, most of the movies I have loved in the past are not the kind that would illicit that kind of response from me. Until recently the only film I could honestly say reduced me to tears was “Life is Beautiful”. And like that film this one attempts to travel the tightrope between humour, fantasy, and tragedy.
“Windstruck” is like many Korean movies as it tries to encompass a number of genres. It starts as a romantic comedy, flirts with a little fantasy, tries it’s hand as police movie and then descends into melodrama (and possibly overdoes a revisit into melodrama). I love this, but I realise it is not to everyone’s taste.
You also have to suspend disbelief to enjoy this film. Now this may seem hypocritical, as there are plenty of movies that I just hate because of their fundamental flaws, but this one is so charming I can forgive it. The main issue is one of timing. Just over halfway through the film a crisis happens. And the second part of the film MUST take place over 49 days. The real world events that take place could not possibly take this amount of time – but you need to roll with it.
Looking online i see three types of reviews. There are those, like me, who love the movie unconditionally. There are many more that hate the melodrama but love the first half. And there a a lot that hate the movie – because it is not “My Sassy Girl”.
So let’s deal with the “My Sassy Girl” stuff. You could read this movie as a prequel to “My Sassy Girl”. The character played by the frankly outstanding Jeon Ji-hyun (and this is the 2nd of four films in this list she is in, so I am a fan) could be seen as the titular Sassy Girl from that film. However, nothing about her back story really links up. The tragedies that befall her are different, and frankly she must be a fair bit older in this movie. The director does not help by adding a little coda to the movie which makes you think that it is the same character, but I think this is a little wink to his audience, that maybe is taken sometimes a little too literally. There are also a couple of other little Easter Eggs which again could suggest some link, but again, I think this is just a little fun, and just provides some thematic resonance between the two.
So – what about the story? Well it is a love story between a female Policewoman and a Physics Teacher. They meet in humorous circumstances, but eventually fall deeply in love. Jeon Ji-hyun’s character.
This is the story of a fun loving girl, who when tragedy hit her early in life (her twin sister died, in circumstances that meant it should have been her), has resolved to really be the best she can. She is completely focused, and frankly does seem to be quite hard to live with and work alongside.
Then, and this is spoiler time, the Physics Teacher, Myung-woo, dies. Actually he dies twice. The first time Kyung-jin manages to save him. But literally 15 minutes later he dies again. And it may be her fault (this is never really explained fully, and does result in a subplot that is never quite fleshed out).
She descends into despair, and eventually attempts suicide. Twice. The first time she does not go through with it because of her desire to save others. The second time she does it. But she is saved. By a rather bizarre and unrealistic method. But that is ok, as we now have entered the melodramatic-fantasy section.
We now find out that Myung-woo is protecting her as a ghost (or rather as the wind), and she starts to move on in life. However, her constant striving and risk taking at her job eventually leads her to be, well, shot.
On her deathbed, she undergoes a dream sequence, that leads her to fight back and live, and I am afraid this is where the tears begin to roll. I am not going to give it all way, but she eventually has to let go of Myung-woo, and this section is heart-rending. And maybe a little overdone.
And we finish on that controversial ending. I have said my piece about that already.
I have said a lot more about the story than I usually do I know, so please forgive me this indulgence patient reader.
This is a beautiful film to look at. Kyung-jin is not just the main focus of the story, she is the main focus of the movie – she appears in pretty much every second of the film, usually front and centre, the camera completely focused upon her. The director, Kwak Jae-young, must have considered her his muse at the time. But more than that, he shows exceptional skill at directing comedy, action and fantasy. He maybe is not as ‘flashy’ as some of his contemporaries, but my word he knows how to make a film watchable. Even the soundtrack is adorable.
There are better films on this list. But few elicit the kind of emotional response in me that this one does. Accept its faults. Enjoy the journey. And I will see you all in a couple of weeks.